Last Reviewed on March 31, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1334
Ginika’s family is moving to America. The news instigates a discussion about who is lucky enough to have an American passport. Ifemelu feels embarrassed: her parents don’t even have passports. Obinze, in contrast, is well-versed in American culture and worships Manhattan as the capital of all things important.
Obinze’s mother wants to meet Ifemelu. A lecturer in literature, Obinze’s mother also does translation, and she translates Ifemelu’s name to “Made-in-Good-Times” or “Beautifully Made.”As Ifemelu watches Obinze and his mother interact, she feels uncomfortable because of their “fluid, bantering rapport. . . . It was free of restraint, free of the fear of consequences.” Ifemelu begins spending much of her time at Obinze’s house, loving the “rapture” she feels there.
Obinze’s mother realizes that Obinze and Ifemelu have been moving their relationship toward intercourse. Summoning Ifemelu to her, Obinze’s mother speaks to her about sex and suggests waiting “until you own yourself a little more.” Obinze’s mother also directs Ifemelu to share when they do become sexually active so that she can ensure that they are “being responsible.” Ifemelu is surprised to feel an “absence of shame” about this conversation.
Aunty Uju lives comfortably, supported by The General’s wealth. The first time Ifemelu saw where Aunty Uju lived in Dolphin Estate, she was amazed by how fancy it was and wanted to live there.
Ifemelu’s family struggles to pay rent, and the landlord cuts off their electricity. Ifemelu tells Aunty Uju about her family’s money problems. Aunty Uju says she will ask The General for the money, shocking Ifemelu, who believed Aunty Uju had her own money. Aunty Uju explains that she is attracted to The General for his money and power. She pays the rent for Ifemelu’s family.
The General spends weekdays with Aunty Uju and weekends at home in Abuja with his wife and family. Ifemelu finds their relationship “undignified and irresponsible.”
On the day of a planned coup, Aunty Uju panics about The General’s safety until she hears from him. He says that the coup had failed.
A Muslim holiday marks the first holiday that The General will be able to spend with Aunty Uju. She cooks and spends extensive time getting ready, but The General calls with news that he can’t come. The next morning, The General sends an “I’m sorry my love” cake.
Aunty Uju discovers that she is pregnant, news which greatly upsets Ifemelu’s mother. Determined to have the baby, Aunty Uju promises that “The General is a responsible man. He will take care of his child.”
The General wants the baby delivered abroad, and Aunty Uju decides she will go to America so that her child will have automatic citizenship. The General rents her a condo in Atlanta, and she delivers a baby boy named Dike. Aunty Uju returns with the child to Dolphin Estate, and both she and The General are happy.
Dike’s first birthday party is an elaborate and well-attended affair. Only a week after the celebration, The General dies in a plane crash rumored to have been orchestrated for political reasons. The day of his death, The General’s relatives arrive at Aunty Uju’s house and demand that she, a “prostitute” and “harlot,” leave their “brother’s property.” Aunty Uju finally realizes how dependent she has been on The General, for she has nothing. She and Dike flee to America.
Ifemelu and Obinze enroll at the university in Nsukka. Ifemelu feels disoriented in Nsukka, as if she doesn’t belong, though she is quite popular and boys are attracted to her. One of the boys, Odein, persuades her to join a student demonstration demanding electricity and water at the school. Obinze’s mother tells them that...
(The entire section contains 1334 words.)
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